Ben Murray Bruce (CEO Silverbird Television), will assume office as a senator for the first time come May 29th, as her desires to pursue his lofty dreams for Nigeria. At the Silverbird Awards, he made a powerful speech before Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, the governor of Delta State was crowned Silverbid’s Man of the year, an award he dedicated to the people of Delta who helped him achieve peace in the region throughout his eight year tenure. Uduaghan explained that he sacrificed his senatorial ambition for the interest of peace in the state.
Bruce who has stepped aside from his chains of businesses following his election took to the stage and delivered the following speech:
“First of all, let me thank all the recipients of the various categories of our awards tonight: those of you who have done great things for this great nation. All my life, I have always been attracted to public office. When I decided to run for public office, I was concerned about the poverty level in the land, and the inability of the federal, state and local governments to function at the level they ought to. In seeking public office, I looked at the national, state and local governments’ budgets. I tried to understand why Nigeria was not as developed as it ought to be. And what I saw was shocking and very alarming. Those of us in the private sector understand how we should run a company, and things we should do and the ones we shouldn’t do. At the federal budget, a couple of things shook me. For instance, one percent of the federal budget is spent on pilgrims for both Muslims and Christians; three percent of the national budget is spent for the National Assembly for 469 people; 30 percent is spent on 1.2 million civil servants; 88 percent is spent on recurrent expenditure while only 12 percent is spent on capital expenditure.
State governments have no money. Most states in this country today, if they were to be companies, they would have closed shop. And no company will lend them money. The federal government inclusive. To say that we are broke is an understatement. A few things must happen to enable us grow the economy, and we must shrink the way we spend money in this country.
The problem facing this country is not about the North versus the South, neither is it about Christianity versus Islam or APC versus PDP. Rather, the problem is ‘Right versus Wrong.” I was interviewed by Global Magazine recently, and they asked me about the problem of the North-east and South-South. I replied that the issue with the North-east is not about religion and that of the South-South is underdevelopment. It’s very simple, we are a small minority of people, the leadership of Nigeria, consuming all the resources of my people and leaving the rest of us in abject poverty.
That will not work. We must learn to be humble, learn to preserve what we have and learn also to be kind for the rest of us to have what to eat, and our children to go to school; providing health care facilities for everyone; education for the children, job creation and infrastructure development for our people. You don’t understand why young men of today have access to an AK-47 to kill us because we do not provide for them. We pay no attention to the least of us.
In our responses, we want to be living large; have more advisers, buy bullet-proof cars and have more body guards. That will not work. We must come together and understand that we must all grow and develop together as a people. Anyone you leave behind, you have created a problem for the rest of us. It’s not enough to send your children to study in Switzerland, and buy your houses in Dubai, live a life of extreme wealth and you expect those you left behind to clap for you.
They don’t do what I call the NTV generation. The past presidents could not shut down Fela Anikulapo Kuti, and you said they can shut down a hundred million people? You think, you are smart and your lifestyle is not being watched by those you govern? When you seek public office, you seek it to lead by example.
You don’t seek public office to play lord over the people who voted you into office. The world has changed, and we must change too. It is not just talking about change, we must have real change. And for us to change, we must understand what drives our people. There is too much hunger in the land.
So, let’s make a deal. Let’s say for instance, to reduce expenditure, only the President and the Vice President will fly 1st Class, while governors and ministers fly Business Class. When you travel abroad you don’t need to lodge in a $4000 hotel paid with the tax payers’ money. I have never stayed in a hotel that is more than $300 in my life, not because I cannot afford it but when I think, at the end of the month, I must pay my workers, pay taxes, how do I justify staying in a $4000 hotel room? It doesn’t make any sense to me.
I have never flown First Class in my life. As a young man I flew Business Class and I do so, on purpose. I have a choice but I choose to fly Business Class which is the right thing to do. You sit here and talk about nationalism and patriotism, and the lights are turned off, you spend over N1.5 million traveling to London. That amount of money will feed a whole family for a whole year. It makes no sense. The problem in Nigeria is the rich versus the poor. The crisis we have in this country is “a class warfare.”
In the next 35 years, if we do not control our consumption behaviour, the emerging generation will rise against us. The world has changed but we have not changed. When we go abroad to look for aids, in Britain, the man we speak to, my counterparts in the British parliament go to work by train and taxi.
Nigeria is too poor for our leaders to act like multi-billionaires, and Nigeria is too rich for the people to be so poor. I don’t like what is happening in the power sector as well as the energy sector. I do not wish to buy patrol and I do not wish to go to any gas station ever again. I want to drive a car powered by the sun. I asked Kia Motors to bring electrically powered car in this country. The reason I asked them to bring in the electrical car is because we need to be free.
In the senate, I’m going to sponsor a bill that will help every poor home in this country so that they can survive. I need your support, if my colleagues say no, you say yes. I want you people to tell my colleagues to create a billion Dollar fund to have solar power invented in every home in Nigeria, so that every child can watch television and listen to the radio. Every Nigerian has a choice as a Nigerian and as a politician. You are either a producer or you are a consumer.”